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Sesana, UN Rapporteur strike CKGR deal

Roy Sesana wants each settlement to have its own trust

The Basarwa human rights activist, Roy Sesana, together with other Basarwa leaders have struck a deal with the UN Rapporteur, Farida Shaheed who recently visited Botswana recently, to assess the country’s efforts to enhance the rights of all persons to participate in cultural life and to enjoy and access cultural heritage.


In her visit to Botswana, the Special Rapporteur visited several Basarwa settlements including Ghanzi/Dkar, Old Xade, New Xade, Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) among other places of interest and met with Government officials, chiefs, artists, academics and representatives of civil society.


As expected, her meeting with Basarwa was full of fireworks, very emotional, intriguing and fascinating. As she spoke to several Basarwa across the country, Shaheed’s impatience to meet ‘a certain Roy Sesana’ became evident as she frequently shared what she heard and read about him.


They eventually met and had a heart-to-heart-conversation which left the duo appreciating each other‘s views on issues and points of departure. When all was said and done, Sesana and the UN Rapporteur are said to have held a brief informal side meeting in which the UN Rapporteur is said to have offered Basarwa a some advice on life, given her vast experience garnered in the continent and Botswana in her 23 days visit when she was doing her study.


Shaheed, is a sociologist who has worked for more than 25 years promoting and protecting cultural rights by fostering policies and projects designed in culturally sensitive ways to support the rights of marginalised sectors, including women, peasants, religious and ethnic minorities. Ms. Shaheed has received several national and international human rights awards.


WeekendPost sought clarity from Roy Sesana over the subject matter of their meeting to which he replied: “I was been candid to her and she did the same to me.”


Sesana continued to say that: “She said that since Government has banned hunting in the CKGR, we can instead invest on a community trust to better our lives. I shared with her our challenges and past failures to do the same and she said they will be willing to assist us if we are willing to work and liberate ourserlves.”


The Basarwa human rights advocate further revealed that “I have to take her offer serious and engage other leaders so as we can reach a consensus on the matter and tell them what we have decided.” He said Shaheed offered them many new ideas which he will have to share with fellow tribe leaders before divulging to the public.


Basarwa trusts have always been surrounded by controversy but Sesana says Shaheed is offering some great ideas. “I have however made it known to her that we do not wish to have trusts that lump several settlements into one as such are prone to infightings and divisions. Let the people of Metsiamanong have own trust, let the people of Molapo have their own trust, and so forth and so forth,” remarked Sesana, who said he would oppose such a proposal if it comes as he knows its potential to divide his tribe.


Shaheed, in her preliminary observations, said the minority groups are not happy. “In many of the places I visited, I heard the frustration, anger, and fears expressed by people, in particular San, Hambukushu and Wayeyi communities, which stem from the lack of clear information about and understanding of the policies in place and future plans, in particular when it comes to the resolution of human – wildlife conflicts,” said Shaheed.


 “The legacy of past violations of human rights in the distant and more recent past need to be acknowledged and addressed if the authorities wish to engage in meaningful consultations with communities for the future,” she said.


“The Central Kalahari Game Reserve has been at the centre of considerable controversy since the Government decided to relocate all people to settlements outside the Reserve,” said Shaheed. Despite a Court ruling confirming the right of the petitioners to return to the Reserve, concerns remain regarding an overly restrictive interpretation of the ruling and the right of offspring to remain on the reserve upon attaining majority at 18 years of age. “I would like the Government to clarify the matter,” the expert said.


The relationship between the communities and the Government has been characterised by mistrust over the past decade with the communities suspecting the Government of harbouring plans to relocate them to give way for wildlife.


Recently, the Government announced plans to stop commercial trophy hunting, which is the mainstay of community trust funds. Communities are granted wildlife quotas which they sell lucratively to safari companies trading in commercial hunting. Government’s intention to stop commercial trophy hunting will affect communities like Sankoyo, Phuduhudu and Xaxa, which are located in the dry areas.


Members of the community trusts have limited capacity to manage and this has resulted in perennial misuse of funds and poor governance of natural resources entrusted to the communities.

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